Inexpensive, well-rated wine selections

April 1, 2023
Wine sales are continuing. If news of expected flooding when the Siera snowpack melts is accurate, I am guessing the wineries will continue to sell inventory to raise cash. Wine grapes do not shine when the weather is wet. As April approaches, bud break is rapidly arriving so there will be a rash of news, especially from the West Coast.
I’ll bet few know that New York, with 28 million gallons, and Pennsylvania, with 12.4 million gallons, are the third and fourth largest wine producers in the U.S. California far outstrips all with 680 million gallons. No. 2 is Washington with 40.75 million gallons. Although tiny Delaware does not make the list, it does deliver $15.49 million in state and local taxes, plus$ 8.67 million in state consumption taxes, including excises.  
I took another deep dive, looking for inexpensive, well-rated wine selections. Informed wine bibbers who enjoy Malbec are already alerted to Familia Zuccardi labels. Several are perennial 94+ and sell in the hundreds per bottle. However the eponymous label, Jose’ Zuccardi Malbec, has rated 92 or better since 2013. The 2018 at $45 and the 2019 at $44 garnered 95 pts. Best news, all are available under $50. My drill down, follow the terroir and the winemaker. Their Torrontes Serie A Salta Argentina, 2020, is 91 McD for under $21 or $18 with case buys. It has subdued floral bouquet of roses and citrus blossoms. On the structured palate, ripe white peach and lemon zest are supported by bright acidity. Series A is all about aromatics and a delicate, clean, long finish.
How about an easily findable 2019 Bordeaux, 92 McD, under $17? Chateau Bourdieu Blaye Cotes de Bordeaux won 97 at Decanter. Long-timers may remember, I am a fan of this label and its consistency for excellent value. It is often underrated because of its price and locale. In blind tastings I've worked, it frequently rises to the top and surprises the critical claque. I can usually identify it because, in a Bordeaux flight, it exhibits what is referred to as Rutherford Dust a unique profile which combines many terroir characteristics.
You may want to read “What Does the Term ‘Rutherford Dust’ Mean?” on  This wine opens fruity and dusty, with a mixed bouquet of blackberry, cassis and raspberry massaged with cubanelle (a green pepper) and subdued barrel spices. On the complex palate, blackberry and cassis continue with chocolate, caramel and mild hazelnut nuances. It’s nicely supported with mineral acidity and firm tannins. It is just entering its window and will cellar. Ask your local wine store friend to order a case. I am guessing under $230. See how many friends are amazed at its quality. This is vintage specific and 2018 is also quite good (90 McD).  
The DeLille Cellars Chaleur Blanc if Columbia River, Wash., 92 McD,  just came on sale at $25 with free shipping (normally $35-40). Since it is available in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland, it is likely your local store can provide some at a fair price. It rivals many of the better Bordeaux Blanc with 65% Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.  It opens to a tropical fruit, citrus and brioche bouquet. It evolves to nectarine flavors accented with oak driven vanilla and barrel spice. A full, creamy body is supported by bright acidity. DeLille has been around for at least 30 years. Its focus is Bordeaux varietals. Well regarded in worldwide competition, they have garnered over 800, 90+ ratings. I don’t like to blanket approve but I must write, Delille's skein of 90 plus scores says shop here. If Global warming continues, this region may eventually usurp the iron grip Napa and Sonoma has on US markets. Their Doyenne Metier, Yakima Valley 2018, is blended with 61% Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. At 91 McD, it shows a bouquet of berries, coffee, cherry and spice, with coffee and barrel notes repeating on the palate. The 2019 Grenache (42%, Mourvèdre; 36%, Syrah 20%; and and 2 % Cinsault) as expected has a vastly different, complex profile. It possesses huckleberry (frequently miscaptioned as blueberry), garrigue (think fresh herbs) cherry, black pepper, cigar box and moist earth aromas. On the fresh palate, ripe fruit, black, uncured olives and stony minerality will appear. An elegant red wine. One critic named garrigue as sagebrush. Having experienced both in the wild, I like the comparison because more of we peeps have probably experienced sagebrush. Euros not so much. 

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